Tag Archives: aging

Wine Around the World 2017: An Aging Population is Transforming Britain

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Purchase tickets here! Wine Around the World 2017.

An Aging Population is Transforming Britain

By 2040, nearly one in seven Britons will be over 75, according to a recent study, which also reveals that almost a third of people born today in the UK can expect to live to 100. In 2014, the average age in the UK exceeded 40 for the first time. As the baby boomer generation enters retirement, the UK will also reach a dramatic demographic turning point: 2017 will see the ratio of non-workers to workers start to rise for the first time since the early 1980s.

This vastly improved life expectancy, which is growing by five hours a day, was one of the great triumphs of the last century. It is now, however, the source of the greatest challenges – and opportunities – of this era, for the UK and many other countries around the world.

Demographic change of this scale requires a long-term perspective. This ageing population brings great opportunities – but also challenges. The tax burden associated with an aging society and higher dependency ratio – the ratio of non-workers to workers – will rise to £15billion a year by 2060.

How will Britain cope? Further increases in the state pension age, as the government is currently considering, will not be enough. The aging population will also need to pursue full employment to maintain the “effective” dependency ratio for many decades to come, and of course the main beneficiaries of this will be disabled and older workers who are struggling to return to the labour market.

In the absence of governmental long-term responses, aging baby boomers in the UK are seizing the reins for the second time. When they were teenagers, this generation transformed the morals and structure of the 1960s with their mantra of “I want.” Their new mantra is “I need” and, thanks to both low birth rates and high life expectancies, their voice is once again the dominant one.

Wine Around the World 2017: Austria Meeting the culturally diverse needs of aging migrants

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Purchase tickets here! Wine Around the World 2017.

Meeting the culturally diverse needs of aging migrants

Like most of Europe, Austria faces significant population aging. Its fertility and mortality rates are decreasing as its life expectancies increase. In Germany, the median age is almost 47; in Italy, 45; in Austria and Greece, 44. These trends pose a very serious challenge to European society. As Europe ages, the costs of healthcare and pensions will increase dramatically while tax revenues decrease. The savings rate will decrease too, since retirees have little incentive to save, which means investment will lessen, potentially slowing the economy further. The effect could be a fiscal catastrophe.

So, when millions of migrants, disproportionately young and male, came knocking on the borders of Western Europe years ago, many sensed an opportunity to integrate the migrants into Austrian society, boosting the country’s shrinking labor force, contributing taxes to help alleviate the country’s looming revenue problem, and increasing the nation’s savings rate. Largely, those goals were not realized.

In addition to the challenges of such migration, the health of older immigrants can have important consequences for needed social support and demands placed on health systems. In a recent study of 11 European countries, migrants generally have worse health than the native population. In these countries, there is a little evidence of the “healthy migrant” at ages 50 years and over. In general, it appears that growing numbers of immigrants may portend more health problems in the population in subsequent years.

Roughly 1.6 million inhabitants of Austria have a migration background, of which 10.2% are older than 65 years with a growing number expected for the near future as well. Yet in Austria, there has been little or no discussion of the need for culturally sensitive health care options. Elderly care for migrants is largely decoded as special needs care. Migrants’ special needs range from a language-based treatment (especially for patients with dementia) to the respect of cultural habits, tastes and religious backgrounds.

Austria now needs to focus on the impact of growing immigration on the health and social security needs of a growing and aging immigrant population. In general, growing numbers of immigrants may be linked to more health problems in the population in subsequent years, requiring new strategies in eldercare.

Wine Around the World 2017: Japan’s lessons from an elder-care approach gone wrong

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Purchase tickets here! Wine Around the World 2017.

Lessons from an elder-care approach gone wrong 

Japan is a country that combines the oldest population in the world with levels of public debt to match Zimbabwe. Their experience illustrates the consequences of retracting state support for eldercare too far and relying on individual and familial support.

Until 2000, publicly-funded social care was nonexistent in Japan; caring for the elderly was a family responsibility. There were two main consequences of this approach. First, there were many reports of neglect and abuse towards older people being looked after by family members. In a survey conducted by the Japanese government, a third of carers reported feeling “hatred” towards the person they looked after. Caring also restricted the employment options of a growing number of Japanese women.

A second issue was the development of a phenomenon known as “social hospitalisation.” Older people were being admitted to hospital for long periods–not for any medical reason, but simply because they could not be looked after anywhere else.

The response from the Japanese government was radical. They introduced long-term care insurance, offering social care to those aged 65+ on the basis of needs alone. The system is part-funded by compulsory premiums for all those over the age of 40, and part-funded by national and local taxation. Users are also expected to contribute a 10% co-payment towards the cost of the service. The costs are seen as affordable and the scheme is extremely popular.

The result is that older people in Japan can access a wide range of institutional and community-based services.

However, it would be a mistake to see this as a problem solved. The uptake of services has far outstripped expectations and the Japanese government is faced with spiralling costs. Their response has been to introduce higher co-payments for wealthier adults, but the challenges continue. Other countries would be well-served to study the long-term impact of Japan’s decisions in order to course correct.

Wine Around the World 2017: California recognizing the need to provide culturally competent care to seniors

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Purchase tickets here! Wine Around the World 2017.

Recognizing the need to provide culturally competent care to seniors

California’s senior population is entering a period of rapid growth. By 2030, as the Baby Boom generation reaches retirement age, the over-65 population will grow by four million people. It will also become much more racially and ethnically diverse, with the fastest growth among Latinos and Asians. Many more seniors are likely to be single and/or childless—suggesting an increased number of people living alone. All of these changes will have a significant impact on senior support services in California.

By 2030 the demand for nursing home care in California will begin to increase after decades of decline. California’s community college system will be critical in training workers to meet the state’s healthcare workforce needs for the growing and changing senior population.

The growing diversity of this aging population illustrates a growing need for culturally competent care—that is, care that respects the beliefs and responds to the linguistic needs of seniors from diverse backgrounds. Respect is at the heart of cultural competence–patients who feel their healthcare providers respect their beliefs, customs, values, language, and traditions are more likely to communicate freely and honestly, which can, in turn, reduce disparities in healthcare and improve patient outcomes.

Disparities in health-care and dissatisfaction are more pronounced among racial minorities. According to a report by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians received worse care and had worse access to care than their non-Hispanic White counterparts. The report also highlighted language barriers as a significant contributor to disparities in care. For example, patients who speak Spanish at home were more likely than patients who speak English at home to report poor communication with nurses.

When patients feel heard and understood by their healthcare providers, they are more likely to participate in preventive health care and less likely to miss health appointments. This can reduce medical errors and related legal costs for healthcare facilities, and it can improve health outcomes for patients. California, like other areas with increasing minority populations, will be well served to focus on creating culturally competent caregivers.

Wine Around the World 2017: Creating futuristic answers to aging issues in France

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Purchase tickets here! Wine Around the World 2017.

Creating futuristic answers to aging issues in France

Traditionally, it is considered natural among the French for senior relatives to be cared for by the family. In accordance with the law, children are required to provide for their aging parents.

This, in particular, explains why old people’s homes and retirement homes are less common in France than in other Western countries. However, this has begun to change.

A recent survey in France confirms that 90 percent of people aged 50 or older would prefer to live in their own homes as long as possible. A quarter of those over 85, though, are already in some form of assisted living, which amounts to around 450,000 people.

One company is creating a technological approach to meeting those increasing needs: A robot called Kompaï, from France-based Robosoft, features a touch-screen display on an easel and a bowling ball–sized head with a “face.” Although the face is currently just for emotional comfort, future versions will light up and show expressions.

The vision for Kompaï is as follows: Family members would call the robot via Skype. The robot would then use ultrasonic sensors to detect the location of the person being called and navigate to that person, who answers the Skype video conference call via Kompaï’s multitouch tablet PC and Webcam. Kompaï could likewise be used as an interface to Facebook or some other social network. Interactive speech recognition would be available to help elderly or otherwise dependent people access the Internet using a simple graphic and tactile interface.

Kompaï could also store a person’s daily schedule and shopping lists, and access online calendars or weather. Robosoft is now being tested in hospitals, geriatric centers, and homes in France, Hungary and Austria to see how the technology is accepted.

Robosoft is looking to partner with companies that make wireless physiological sensors worn by a robot’s owner that could communicate blood pressure, pulse, body temperature and other data via Bluetooth to the robot, which would then relay that information to the person’s doctor.

In this way, the needs of France’s aging population might be met more efficiently.

Wine Around the World 2017: Croatia Looks at Policy for Caring for the Aging

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on Thursday, October 12, 2017. Purchase tickets here! Wine Around the World 2017.

Creating National Policy on Caring for the Aging

In Croatia, a burgeoning elderly population and rapid socio-economic change have strained health services to the point where health care providers, policymakers, and citizens alike have begun to recognize an immediate need for alternative options for geriatric care–in a nation where geriatrics and gerontology have not yet evolved into recognized specialties.

There are not enough retirement homes, waiting lists are long, there are no hospices, there is no program to educate families in how to care for the elderly, there are no guidance centers. Home care is developing. Unfortunately, a major problem is an insolvent community that cannot contribute enough resources.

Croatia wants to address the issues of a growing aging population and the absence of a national policy on how to care for the aging. They want to look at alternative means of elder care: day care, assisted living, home care, and ways to move people out of hospitals.There are currently two options for residential elder care in Croatia: retirement homes, which provide assistance with activities of daily living and with administration of medications, and health and welfare institutes, which house those with chronic conditions. These facilities are funded through a combination of government welfare supplements and private pay; residents’ relatives are required to assist with payment when they are able to. The pressure to get into residential care facilities is intense. There are more than 10,000 people on waiting lists for these homes, and applicants often must wait up to three years for placement.

After visiting The Franciscan at St. Leonard in Centerville, Ohio, on an exchange recently, nursing home administrators conceived a plan to introduce adult day care to Croatia, resulting in the opening of a nursing home in Sibenik that provides three meals a day and a range of leisure activities–including painting, singing, dancing and playing cards–for elderly citizens.

Wine Around the World 2016: Slovenia

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

SLOVENIA’S RAPIDLY AGING POPULATION IS DRIVING INTERGENERATIONAL INNOVATION

waw-slovenia

by Patti Digh

In Slovenia, aging-related expenses as a share of GDP will increase from 24.7% in 2013 to 31.5% in 2060. Out of 100 working age people in Slovenia, 27 were over 65 at the start of 2013, a number that will double to 58 in 2060, according to a recent report. The proportion of the population over 85 is also projected to surge from 2% at the moment to 7% in 2060.

In addition to the systemic reforms obviously needed to finance this rapidly aging population, Slovenia is looking at innovative ways to unite old and young people, using institutions familiar with the needs and abilities of both groups. They aim to tackle the stereotypes young and old people tend to have about each other.

The “Fruits of Society” house is the first example of an intergenerational centre in Slovenia, bringing together young and old in the Pomurje region. The project’s aim is to ensure additional help for the elderly by young people and, at the same time, help youth acquire new knowledge. Activities mainly revolve around socializing, joint projects, and promotion of a healthy lifestyle and voluntary work. The idea is to create a forum where ideas can be exchanged on how to deepen and extend intergenerational voluntary cooperation to other activities.

Traditionally, the elderly in Slovenia have been taken care of by their family members. Those who did not have any relatives were partially taken care of by a local community. However, a recent Slovenian study showed that three quarters of people would choose to go to a nursing home and less than one fifth (17%) would choose to live with one of their children because they don’t want to be a burden. Even so, the willingness of family to care for their elders is very high. Almost two-fifths of Slovenes see the solution as family care and co-living with disabled and elderly family members. Half of the respondents said that for them personally, caring for old people is one of the main tasks of the family. The biggest problem is not the willingness to care but rather the ability to care. Family care is less available due to the lack of support services rather than unwillingness to care.

The first need they have is common to all Slovenian family caregivers – the need for “respite care services” (47.1%) that are very scarce (almost nonexistent) in Slovenia. Two fifths of family caregivers wish to have “more frequent visits from a district nurse” and “larger accessibility of home help services.” The fourth and fifth most expressed things they miss are the “support from their relatives” and “the life they lived before taking over the caring responsibilities.” The needs of family carers reflect the real situation regarding family care of older people in Slovenia.

Currently there are only a few services intended for family caregivers and they are not provided on a national level. For example, there is no place that provides information, practical training in caregiving, and other support to family caregivers on the national level. Family caregivers urgently need broader community support and professional assistance in the form of home care and support, institutional day care, respite care services, needs assessment, counseling and advice, self-support groups, practical training in caring and protecting their own physical and mental health, weekend breaks, integrated planning of care for elderly and families, and so on.

Through one national program, family members are trained via short courses for better understanding and communicating with older family members, or about quality aging after retirement, in which the elderly are taught how to recognize and accept old age, practice active aging, and have quality relations with the younger generations.

Family members who have an elder in an institution learn to communicate well during their visits and to collaborate well with the residential care provider. Relatives’ clubs are being established inside nursing homes. The underlying principle is that one hour weekly of quality personal contact with an old person is an excellent opportunity for personal growth, and a good way to learn about intergenerational communication and prepare for one’s own old age.

Wine Around the World 2016: Portugal

This series of blog posts by author Patti Digh will focus on issues of aging in the countries whose wines we will taste at our Wine Around the World event on October 6, 2016. There are a limited number of tickets left. Don’t miss this unforgettable event! Purchase online or stop by our office at 105 King Creek Blvd, Hendersonville, NC.

PORTUGAL’S PERFECT STORM

waw-portugal

by Patti Digh

Between 1960 and 2012, the young population of Portugal greatly decreased and the number of elderly citizens greatly increased, changing significantly the population dynamics in that European nation. Why? Because of sharp fertility rate declines (they have the lowest fertility rate in Europe), the increase of life expectancy, and increased emigration in recent years, caused by unemployment and the economic crisis there. Over one-third of people under 25 in Portugal are unemployed and cannot find jobs in their own country, so they are leaving and Portugal is fast-becoming a nation of one-child families.

Under the current poor economic conditions in Portugal, the Portuguese population is going to continue to decrease, and the aging of the population that remains will likely result in the unsustainability of the country. For the elderly living in small families without children or a spouse, greater support from the community and local health services will be required, a situation that becomes even more acute in periods of economic depression. It is a perfect storm.

As reported in The Guardian, the recent fall in births across Portugal – to 89,841 babies in 2012, a 14% drop since 2008 and a 56% drop since 1960 – has been so acute that the government is closing a number of maternity wards nationwide. In an increasingly childless country, 239 schools are closing this year and sales of everything from diapers to children’s shampoos are plummeting. At the same time, in the fast-greying interior, petrol stations and motels are being converted into nursing homes.

Portugal is at the forefront of Europe’s latest baby bust, facing greatly increased social costs in some of the world’s most rapidly aging societies. By 2030 the retired population in Portugal will surge by 27.4%, with those older than 65 then predicted to make up nearly one in every four residents. With fewer and fewer future workers and taxpayers being born, the Portuguese are confronting what could be a real financial difficulty in providing for their aging population.

Experts predict that the population loss ahead for Portugal could be beyond even the worst-case predictions of nearly 1 million fewer inhabitants – or almost 10% of the current population of 10.56 million – by 2030. It has many bemoaning the “disappearance” of a nation, leaving them to ask: Who will be left to support a dying country of old men and women?

“This is one of the biggest problems we face as a nation,” said Jose Tavares, political economics professor at the Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisbon. “If we don’t find a way to fix this, we will be facing a disaster.”

The burdens ahead are also clear in communities across Portugal, where elder care is the largest single public expenditure. Recent national cuts have meant a reduction in the number of seniors towns are able to aid in their main adult day-care facilities.

To breathe new life into some areas, officials have sought to lure young people back, offering cash subsidies for new homebuyers in an attempt to stem years of losses of working-age residents to inland cities and more prosperous countries. Some towns are providing preschool for next to nothing, with children being minded in nursing homes, which thrills the residents. One clothing maker in central Portugal has started paying its workers a bonus for having babies, and towns are following suit.